A London Primer
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Captivating in countless ways, London is one of the most popular cities in the world. Between world-class museums and historical monuments, you can duck into charming pubs or picnic in peaceful urban parks. You can search for treasures in Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill or eat your way through the bustling Borough Market. Attend mesmerizing theatrical performances and stroll through characterful neighborhoods like a local. Here’s a primer for your trip to London. In addition to these tips, I have a great deal more information.
When to Visit London
Similar to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, London can be overcast, foggy, and drizzly for much of the year. It doesn’t tend to get heavy-parka-cold. But when the temperatures are cool, and it’s raining outside, it can feel colder than the thermometer registers. The winter/low tourism season is from December to February when temps can dip below 41°F.
Summer/high tourism season is July and August when the temperatures (and prices) are at their highest (but typically no warmer than 86°F. Consider traveling to London during the spring (late March-June) or autumn (September-October), when the temperatures are moderate, and the crowds are thinner. No matter when you visit, bring along a light jacket and travel umbrella.
Getting to London
London is one of the most well-connected cities in the world. Direct flights from the US depart from Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Orlando, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, and other gateway cities. London’s largest airport (and the busiest in Europe) is Heathrow Airport (LHR). Gatwick Airport (LGW) is the second largest airport in London. Both are convenient and linked by public transit to the city center.
London is also readily accessible by Eurostar train. A nice option if you travel elsewhere in Europe before or after visiting London.
Cuisine & Culture
Whatever your palate prefers, you’ll find it in London. There are haute cuisine options in many of the more upscale hotels and neighborhoods. But if you’re seeking something more authentic and local, you’ll find it here, too. From Indian in the East End to Turkish at Green Lanes, from the up-and-coming eateries of Soho to Chinatown, foodies find much to love in London.
Culturally speaking, you can’t go wrong in London. Visit the Tate Modern and the British Film Institute or take in a theater or musical performance along with the South Bank, and of course, don’t miss the West End if you’re a true theater buff. Move on to the Tate Britain in Pimlico, the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and you’ve accomplished a more cultural day than almost any you’ve had recently.
Want more? Time your visit with the London Fashion Week in September or The Lord Mayor’s Show in November, full of pomp, circumstance, and processions.
Top Things to Do in London
While this is not an exhaustive list by any means (and we can chat about your personal interests and preferences), here’s a starter guide to the city’s top highlights:
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard
Tower of London and the Royal Jewels (with a walk across the Tower Bridge)
The British Museum
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Stay Central: For first-time visitors who want to be conveniently located to the top attractions, consider staying in Covent Garden, Piccadilly and Leicester Square (all part of the West End).
Pre-Book Attractions: Consider pre-booking certain attractions with timed entry. This will save you heartache if something is super busy or sold out, and help you plan your sightseeing time overall.
Travel in the Off Season: Like we mentioned above, consider traveling to London in the spring or fall to beat the crowds.
We hope you have found this London travel primer helpful. If you have any questions about the destination or need help planning a trip, let’s chat! Looking for more info? Check out my guide for your First time in London.